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UC Irvine Gets Acquainted With New Chief

Dr. Michael V. Drake vows to help the school continue to build on its reputation.

May 28, 2005|Jeff Gottlieb | Times Staff Writer

In his first appearance at UC Irvine since being named chancellor, Dr. Michael V. Drake on Friday quickly engaged a gathering of about 200 people, pledging to further build the university's reputation and introducing himself as Irvine's newest ophthalmologist.

He spoke of his 91-year-old father who gave up his psychiatric practice last year to care for his mother, and ended his remarks by quoting from memory a poem included in an admissions application at UC San Francisco, where he once was senior associate dean for admissions.

"Any happiness or joy I feel will be happiness and joy you create."

Then he added his own words: "I look forward to the joy of service with all of you."

Drake, 54, was named Thursday as the fifth chancellor of the 40-year-old university. He takes over July 1.

He spoke in Aldrich Park in the middle of campus, standing on a stage bracketed with balloons in the university's blue and gold colors. Outgoing Chancellor Ralph Cicerone presented him with a T-shirt bearing the words "Completely Insane Anteaters," a reference to the school's mascot and its most frenzied fans. Drake shed his pinstriped suit jacket and put on the shirt to cheers.

Cicerone, who is leaving to head the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., warned Drake and his wife, "Both of you have had very interesting lives, but you ain't seen nothing yet."

Several black students said they saw Drake, the second African American to head a UC campus, as a role model.

"I'm excited to see a black face in a high place," said Keshia Adeniya, a freshman social ecology major.

"He's someone to look up to," said Brandon Roberson, a sophomore music major.

Drake's most recent position was the UC system's vice president for healthcare, overseeing the schools of medicine, dentistry, public health and others.

In a short news conference Friday, Drake said he would continue to treat patients and teach when he arrived at UC Irvine, carrying on a "boutique" practice, as he has been doing in his current position.

His wife, Brenda, is a lawyer and director of the Public Health Trust in Oakland, which directs settlements from class-action lawsuits into programs that deal with the problems addressed in the litigation. She said she will travel between the Bay Area and Orange County, at least for awhile.

The new chancellor said he wanted "the campus to be the employer of choice in the community" and for its graduates to be the employees of choice for local companies.

He recently completed a nine-week management course at Harvard University business school.

He also chaired a 2 1/2-year study of California's healthcare needs to determine where the university system should build its next schools in the medical field.

UC President Robert Dynes, who accompanied Drake, said that on Thursday he appointed a committee of regents, faculty and chancellors to study which fields the UC system should expand in by 2025. The study has particular implications for UC Irvine, where officials have long lobbied for a law school to complete the university. He expected the report to be completed in six months.

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